Chicken Biryani Recipe
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Malaysian
Serves: 2½ lbs chicken thighs (6 pieces)
Chicken Marinade
  • Garam Masala (see notes 1):
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 tbs fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • ¼ tsp mace powder
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 2 tbs ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 medium onions, peeled
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2" ginger, peeled
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch mint, chopped
  • 4 mild green chilies, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup whole plain yogurt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
Fried Onions
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (as uniform in size as possible)
  • 1½ cup oil
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 12 cups (3 qt) water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbs oil
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 1? lb (or 3 cups) basmati rice, washed well and soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • ¼ cup ghee (see notes 2)
  • 1 tsp saffron threads, soaked in ½ cup warm water for 15 minutes
  • 1 tsp of kewra or pandanas water (optional)
  • 1 tsp of rose water (optional)
  • Fried Onions
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Raisins (optional)
  • Cashew nuts (optional)
  1. Marinate Chicken
  2. Optional: Lightly toast star anise, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorn, fennel, caraway and poppy seeds in a pan.
  3. Put the whole spices in a coffee grinder or high powdered blender and blend until fine. Mix in the mace powder, chili powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric, & nutmeg. Combine well and set aside. You've just made your own garam masala. Nicely done.
  4. Put the onion, garlic and ginger in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the onion paste, garam masala and the remaining ingredients for the chicken marinade over the chicken. Mix well. Marinate the chicken overnight.
  5. Fry Onion
  6. Over medium high heat, add the oil to a deep heavy-bottomed pan and deep fry the onions (in two batches) until brown and crisp. Set aside. Reserve oil for future use (see notes 1).
  7. Brown chicken
  8. Over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil (from the fried onions) to a pan. Remove chicken from the marinade (do not discard the marinade) and sear them for 3 minutes on each side or until browned/charred to your liking.
  9. Parboil rice
  10. Optional: Lightly toast the whole spices (cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom & caraway) in a pan.
  11. Place toasted spices in a spice bag. You can skip this if you don't mind the spices mixed in the rice.
  12. Over medium high heat, bring the water to boil along with the toasted spices, bay leaves, oil and salt. Once the water is boiled, taste the water (it should be slightly salty). Add more salt if necessary.
  13. Add the basmati rice and let simmer uncovered for exactly 5 minutes. Rice only needs to be about 70% done. Don't let it overcook. Strain and set aside.
  14. Assemble Chicken Biryani
  15. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  16. In a casserole dish (13 x 9 x 2¼), drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of ghee. Add the chicken in one layer along with the marinade. Top with ? of fried onions, rice, another ? of fried onions, drizzle the remaining ghee, saffron mixture, rose water and pandanas water.
  17. Cover the dish or pot with a heavy duty aluminum foil or tight fitting lid (best if sealed on the edges of the pot using a dough and lay something heavy on the lid). Bake for 45 - 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads at least 165 F.
  18. When it's ready, let biryani rest for 10 minutes. Uncover, gently fluff and mix the rice and chicken. Garnish and serve immediately (optionally with raita, papadam, chutney or curry).
  1. You can use store bought garam masala. Use ½ cup. Keep in mind that each brand's garam masala tastes different so the results will vary.
  2. Best is to use ghee. For recipe, see below. If it's just too much for you, that ok. Use the oil from the fried onion.
  3. To make ghee:
  4. Add ¼ cup (2 oz) unsalted butter in a small pan. Over medium heat, melt the butter. It will then start to simmer. Change to medium low heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Discard the top layer (foam). The clarified butter (middle layer) should be golden in color and there should be brown pieces of milk solids at the bottom of the pan (to be discarded). Don't let the brown pieces burn. Let cool a little and strain using a mesh strainer or a cheesecloth.
  5. If you're not a rice person, you will have plenty of rice leftover. Simpy enjoy the rice as a side dish for other meals. You can also freeze and consume it later too.
  6. Use remaining oil from fried onions like you would any regular oil to cook other dishes. It imparts a depth of flavor like no other.
  7. Ingredients:
  8. a. Rice: Look for good quality basmati rice in Indian markets. If you're not in close proximity to one, online will be your best bet. This recipe makes plenty of rice because I love the rice. You can reduce if you want to.
  9. b. Spices: I bought most my spices from Whole Foods and some from Mountain Rose Herbs.
  10. c. Kewra water or pandanas water can be found in most Indian Markets.
Recipe by Honest Cooking at